Originally posted on January 6th, 2012
Last Saturday I was in a small pharmacy in Nashua picking up the chemotherapy drugs for Patton. As I told the woman working behind the counter the “patient’s” name she asked me if he was named after the general. I replied that he was and she told me a story. She and her sisters had taken their great Aunt over to France last year to visit the WWII cemetery in Normandy. Her aunt had lost a brother in the war and had always wanted to visit his grave and the family had only just managed to find the time to do that recently.
While they were at the cemetery her great aunt was invited to lay a wreath at the marker of one of the unknown soldiers buried there. The person she would be laying the wreath with was Helen Patton, grand-daughter of General George S. Patton, Jr. We continued speaking while she rang up my purchase. When I left I found myself once again pondering how interconnected everything is, how choosing a name for my cat back in the 90s could somehow lead to a story about the grand-daughter of his namesake in a small pharmacy that I was visiting only because they provided veterinary drugs.
Patton’s blood work this morning revealed that his immune system has killed off most of his red blood cells since his transfusion last Tuesday. As a result, he is now dependent on blood transfusions just to maintain enough red blood cells to keep him alive.
At $1,000 a transfusion and with weekly transfusions needed for at least the next 4 weeks and possibly the next 8 weeks and with no certainty that he would ever respond to the medications he is on and could likely relapse after that, all the while feeling terrible – he spends all of his time hiding in his cat carrier now, refusing to even enjoy a last bask in the sun – I am making the difficult decision to end his suffering rather than prolong it with only a marginal chance at a return to health for him.
I’ll take that $1,000 I would have spent on his next transfusion and donate it to the Pat Brody shelter instead, helping dozens of cats instead of just one. And I’ll remind myself that the pain we feel at the loss of a loved pet is the price we pay to ensure that they had a chance to live a good life. It’s more than a fair exchange and one I’m certain I’ll pay several more times between now and when it’s my time to go.
About a month later I wrote this:
“Most nights in January I came home and looked for Patton. Some nights I wouldn’t look, because I remembered that he was dead.
Wednesday night was the first time I forgot to look for Patton AND the first time I wasn’t conscious of the fact that I didn’t have to look for him.
I can’t tell which sucks more; missing him every day or getting over missing him every day.”
I’d realized at that point that Patton was one of the reliable people I’d depended on at the start of my divorce. I was never alone in my new apartment because he’d come along with me. It didn’t seem like he cared much about the new smaller location as long as he still had his defined space next to me on the couch every night.